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History Education Begins at Home

Children and History
Parents Make a Difference
History Is a Habit
Enjoying Your Child and History

The Basics of History

The Meanings of History
A New Look at History
Asking Questions

Activities: History as Story

What's the Story?
Our Town
History on the Go
What's News?
History Lives
Cooking Up History
Rub Against History

Activities: History as Time

Time Marches On
Weave a Web
Put Time in a Bottle
Quill Pens & Berry Ink
School Days
Time To Celebrate
The Past Anew


Parents and the Schools
What We Can Do To Help Our Children Learn

Imagine waking up one morning to find out that you have no
memory! You are not able to remember who you are or what
happened in your life, yesterday or the day before that. You are
unable to tell your children from total strangers, you cannot
communicate with people because you no longer know how to
greet them, or understand their conversation. You don't remember
what "the election," "war," or "the cinema" mean.

Lack of historical memory is parallel to this loss of individual
memory. The link on which we depend every day between the past
and present would be lost if we had no memory of our history. And
we would miss a great source of enjoyment that comes from piecing
together the story of our past.

Today educators are working to promote the study of history in
the schools and at home. Knowledge of our history enables us to
understand our nation's traditions, its conflicts, and its
central ideas and values. Knowledge of world history enables us
to understand other cultures.

We hope to encourage children to love history and to enjoy
learning about it. This book is a tool you can use to
stimulate your children's active involvement in the history that
surrounds them every day. It includes:

* Basic information about history, and approaches to enjoying
history with your children, aged 4-11;

* History activities that you and your children can do -- at
home, in your community, and out of town -- for no or little
cost; and

* History resources in your community and nationally, in
bookshops, and libraries.

                         Children and History

As parents we are in the best position to encourage our
children's natural interest in history. It is to us they address
their first historical questions: "Where did I come from?" and
"Was I always here?" These two questions contain the two main
meanings of "history": it is the story of people and events, and
it is the record of times past.

Now is the time to bring out the historical evidence and to
share family stories with your child. Birth and adoption
certificates, immunization records, first pieces of your child's
writing and art, as well as photographs all count as historical
sources that tell the story of your child.

The stories you tell and read to your children, or make up with
them, are part of their cultural heritage and reinforce the two
basic parts of history: "Once upon a time, and long ago."

Parents Make a Difference

Your child is born into history. She has no memory of it, yet
she finds herself in the middle of a story that began before she
became one of its characters. She also wants to have a place in

As parents we can prepare our children to achieve the lifelong
task of finding their place in history by helping them to learn
what shaped the world into which they were born. Without
information about their history, children don't "get" a lot of
what they hear and see around them.

Your attitude about history can also make a difference for your
child. Showing your interest in history -- your belief that
knowing history makes a difference for your life -- encourages
your child's own interest.

Many parents say they love history. If you are one of them you
can share your particular interests in history with your children
as well as help them develop their own.

Many other parents say they find history boring. If you are
among these, try one of the following: start writing your own
life story; read the diary of Anne Frank, or the autobiography of
Winston Churchill; or rent a video about World War II. As you
rediscover history your children may be inspired by your
                             History Is a Habit

The activities in this book can help you start doing history
with your child. You will probably get more ideas of your own. In
addition, you can develop some of the following "history habits"
that make history important not only during an activity but every

History Habits for Parents

Habits are activities we do on a regular basis. We acquire
habits by choosing to make them a part of our life. It is worth
the time and effort to develop good habits because they enhance
our well-being. We suggest the following history habits to enrich
your life experience and your children's.

Share family history with your children, particularly your
memories. Help your own parents and other relatives know your
children and talk with them about family stories.

Participate in your community by voting and helping to make
changes in areas that interest you. Encourage your children to
vote in school elections, to present themselves as candidates,
and gain knowledge of history and the values and behaviors that
are the basis of their citizenship.

Read newspapers and news magazines, and watch television news
programs to maintain an informed judgment about the world. Talk
about current events and your ideas about them with your children
and other adults, and explore different points of view. Check the
encyclopedia or your local library for additional historical

Watch television programs about important historical topics
with your family, and encourage conversation about the program
as you watch. Get library books on the same topic and learn more
about it. Check to see if the books and television programs
agree on significant issues, and discuss their differences.

Read with your children about people and events that have made a
difference in the world, and discuss the readings together. The
list of publications at the end of this book serves as a support
to you for choosing materials.
Help children know that the makers of history are real people
like themselves, who have ideas, work hard, and experience
failure and success. Introduce them to local community leaders in
person if possible, and national and world leaders via the media
and biographies.

Make globes, maps, and encyclopedias available and use every
opportunity to refer to them. A reference to Africa in a child's
favorite story, or the red, white, and green stripes on a box of
spaghetti can be opportunities to learn more about the world.

Have a collection of great speeches and written documents to
read from time to time with your child.

Your own involvement in history, in any of the forms referred to
in this book, is a good habit you can pass on to your children.
                  Enjoying Your Child and History

We have intentions of good fun as we plan any activity with our
children. We also want them to learn something from most
activities. They probably would say they want to have fun and
learn something new too. But sometimes the difference in
abilities between us and them, or the demands of time, end up
leaving us disappointed. Keeping the following in mind can help
keep your time together fun and productive:

You don't have to know all the facts or fully understand history
to help your children learn. Your willingness to learn with
them -- to read, to ask questions, to search, and to make
mistakes -- is the most important gift you can bring to the
process. By viewing their mistakes as sources of information for
future efforts, your children gain confidence to continue

Conversation gets you past the difficult moments. Keeping open
the communication between you and your children, and encouraging
continued discussion no matter how off the mark your children may
seem, tells them you take them seriously and value their efforts
to learn. The ability to have a conversation with your children
profoundly affects what and how they learn.

Children have their own ideas and interests. By letting them
choose activities accordingly, you let them know their ideas and
interests are valuable. Often they will want to teach you as a
way to use what they know. Share their interests and encourage
them to learn more.

Make the most of everyday opportunities to do history: visits
from grandparents, reading books, telling stories, holidays,
elections, symbols like the flag, the national anthem at
sporting events, pictures in newspapers and magazines, visits to
museums. If your child asks about a person in a painting, stop to
find out who it is. Keep asking: "What does this mean? How do I

Choose your activities well. The activities in this booklet are
for children aged 4-11. Each of the activities can be adapted to
a child of any age and ability level. Even a preschooler can
"read" a newspaper with your help, for a short period of time.
While an activity that is too difficult will frustrate your
child, an activity that is too easy will lose his interest.
Challenges bring feelings of accomplishment.

Have a goal. When you choose or begin an activity you may not
have a clear idea of where it's going. But keep in mind that the
purpose of doing the activities in this book is to learn
something about history. The first section of this book, the
introduction to each activity, and the question boxes can help
you. As you complete each activity discuss with your child what
you learned together. Making bread is one thing, knowing that
bread has historical meaning is another. Achieving a goal for an
activity also helps your child sense the pleasure of a completed
                       THE BASICS OF HISTORY

                       The Meanings of History

If you look for the meaning of "history" in the dictionary you
may be surprised to find that history is not simply the past
itself. The first meaning of history is "tale, story," and the
second meaning is "a chronological record of significant past
events." The opening of tales for children -- "Once upon a
time" -- captures both the story and time nature of history.

When we study history we are involved in a branch of knowledge
that records and explains past events. Many would say that
history is not just one branch of knowledge among others, but
that it is the most essential one because it is the complete
story of human endeavour. It happens that the word "history"
comes from the Greek "to know."

The activities in this book are organized according to the two
meanings of history as story and time in order to help you
explore these meanings with your child.

The Story in History

The work of doing history is to consider people and events that
are no longer in our presence. Unlike doing science, we do
history without being able to observe behavior and its results.

This work is fun when we make the past meaningful. We do this by
weaving together various pieces of information about the past. In
doing this we create a pattern that gives shape to "just a
collection of facts". Doing history is a way of bringing the past
to life, in the best tradition of the storyteller.

But not just any story will do. While there are many possible
tales of the same event, good history is based on evidence and
several perspectives.

The history with which we are most familiar is political
history -- the story of wars, peace treaties, and changes of
government. But anything that has a past has a history. This
includes the history of ideas, for example the concept of
freedom, and cultural history, for example the history of music.
The story of history is interesting to us because it tells us
about real people who had ideas and beliefs, worked and struggled
to put them in action, and shaped the present in which we find

Time in History

Human events take place in time, one after the other. It is
important to learn the sequence of events in order to trace them,
reconstruct them, and weave the stories that tell of their
connections. Children need to learn the measures of time, such as
year, decade, generation, and century. When they hear "Once upon
a time in history" they need to be able to ask "When did that
happen?", and to know how to find the answer.

Time in history is a kind of relationship. We can look at
several events that all happened at the same time, and that
together tell a story about that period. Or we can look at the
development of an idea over time, and learn how and why it
changed. And we can consider the relationship between the past
and the present, or the future and the past (which is today!).
The present is the result of choices that people made and the
beliefs they held in the past, while the past, in being retold,
is in some way remade in the present. The future will be the
result of the coming together of several areas developing today.

The main focus of history is the relationship between continuity
and change, and it is important that our children understand the
difference between them. For example, the population of Great
Britain has changed dramatically over time with each wave of
immigration. With the entry of these new groups into our society,
bringing their own ideas, beliefs, and cultures, our way of life
has continued and grown stronger.
                       A New Look at History

History is now understood to be more than memoriing names and
dates. While being able to recall the details of great people and
events is important, the enjoyment of history is enhanced by
engaging in activities and experiencing history as a "story well

Original sources and literature are real experiences. Reading
the actual words that changed the course of history, and stories
that focus on the details of time and place help children know
that history is about real people in real places who made real
choices that had some real consequences, and that they could have
made different choices.

Less can mean more. "A well-formed mind is better than a well-
stuffed mind", says an old proverb. Trying to learn the entire
history of the world is not only impossible, it feels too hard
and reduces our enthusiasm for history. In-depth study of a few
important events gives us a chance to understand the many sides
of a story. We can always add new facts.

History is hands-on work. Learning history is best done in the
same way we learn to use a new language, or to play basketball:
we do it as well as read about it. Doing history means asking
questions about historical events and characters; searching our
towns for signs of its history; talking with others about current
events and issues; writing our own stories about the past.

There is no final word on history. There are good storytellers
and less good storytellers. And there are many stories. But very
rarely does any one storyteller "get it right", or one story say
it all. A good student of history will always look for other
points of view, knowing that our understanding of history changes
over time.

Your children do well to ask "So what?" Much that we take for
granted is not so obvious to our children. We should invite them
to clear up doubts they have about the reasons for remembering
certain things, getting facts right, and collecting and judging
evidence. At each step, asking "so what?" helps to explain what
is important and worth knowing, and to take the next step with
                          Asking Questions

At the end of each activity in this book, you will find a series
of questions that can help develop the critical thinking skills
children need to participate well in society, learn history, and
learn from history. The questions help them know the difference
between what is real, fantasy, and ideal, and make the activity

Critical thinking is judging the value of historical evidence;
judging claims about what is true or good; deciding what
information is important to have; looking at a topic from
different points of view; being curious enough to look further
into an event or topic; being skeptical enough to look for more
than one account of an event or life; and being aware that our
vision and thinking are often limited by our biases and opinions.

The following two sections contain a sampling of history
activities, organized by the meanings of history as story and
time. Each group of activities is preceded by a review of three
elements of story and time from the perspective of history. The
review is meant to inform and support conversation between you
and your child, which is the most important step in each activity
by far.


History is a permanent written record of the past. Because
recording history is an essential part of doing history, a
"history log" is indicated for each activity. More recently,
history is also recorded on audio and video tape, and many of the
activities lend themselves to this type of recording as well.
Your children may be interested to know that the time of their
favourite dinosaurs is called "preceptor" because it is
unrecorded history. They should also know that some written
languages have been invented because telling stories orally,
without recording them in some form, is not by itself a sure
enough way to preserve the identity of a people.


George Washington, in his Farewell Address in 1796, said:
"Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration I am
unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible
of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed
many errors." This reflection is a good reminder that history,
with its facts and evidence, is also an interpretation of the
past. There is more than one cause for an event, more than one
kind of outcome, and more than one way of looking at their


All good histories are written on the basis of evidence. Your
children need to learn the importance of evidence, and to
distinguish it from biases, propaganda, stereotypes, and opinion.
They need to judge whether the many stories about Winston
Churchill, or World War I, for example, are based on solid enough
evidence to provide an accurate account of the life and times.
                            What's the Story

History is a story well told. Through storytelling children can
understand what's involved in writing the stories that make

What you'll need

Family members and friends

A fairy tale or folk tale

History log

What to do

1. Tell a story of a person you know. Gather your children,
other family members, and friends to have a storytelling session.
Choose a person you know about whom the group will tell the
story. Decide who will begin, and go clockwise from there with
each person adding to the story. Set a time limit so that you
must end the story somewhere.

2. Read a folk story or fairy tale, for example, Little Red
Riding Hood. Talk about how the story begins and ends, who the
characters are and what they feel, and what happens. Ask how this
story based on fantasy is different from the story you told about
the real person you know.

3. Read a story about an historical event. Now pick a moment in
world history, for example the fall of the Berlin Wall, the
French Revolution, or a current event in the news headlines. Ask
the librarian for help in choosing material that is at your
child's reading level.

4. Help your child write in the history log about this storytelling

In the storytelling session about the person you know, how did you
verify the "truth" when there were differences of opinion about what
"really happened"? If you were to write the story of a real event for
the newspaper, what would count for you the most in preparing it?
What else would you include? Where would you get your information?
How would you check the accuracy of the information?
                               Our Town

Your phone book, newspaper, and other resources can serve as
your best guide to history in your town. Not only does referring
to them save time, it teaches how to use tools to get

What you'll need

Phone books, both yellow and white pages

Daily newspaper

Local newspaper

History log

What to do

1. Newspaper search. Look in your local newspapers. They list
"things to do". Look for parades, museum and art exhibits, music
events, children's theater, history talks and walks.

Participate in an event and help your child write about it in
the history log when you get back home.

2. Phone book search. Look in your phone books under "History"
or "Historical Places". You will find a few places under this
heading but many more are listed elsewhere.

Brainstorm with your children about what other words to look
under in the phone book to find local history.

Call the places you find. Ask about their programs, hours, and
upcoming special events. Ask to be put on their mailing list.
Also ask where else you should go to learn about your town's

Your younger children should listen to your phone conversation.
They learn how to ask for information by listening to you.

3. Begin a list in the history log of local historical sites.
Include phone numbers, addresses, hours of operation, and other
useful information for future visits.
What is the most surprising thing you learned about your town?
If you were asked to be a tour guide for visitors to your town,
what would you show them? If you went to another town, how would
you go about visiting it?
                            History on the Go

Visit the historical places in your child's history book, either
in person or by collecting materials.

What you'll need

Your child's history book

Maps, guidebooks

History log

What to do

1. Find out what historical events your child is studying in
school. Perhaps a historical site is near your town. Choose a
site of one of these events to visit in person or through the
materials you collected.

2. Prepare the trip together in advance. Ask the librarian to
help you and your child find books and videos on the history of
the town or the historical figures who lived there.

3. Call the Chamber of Commerce or Tourist Information Centres of
the area for maps and guidebooks.

4. Make a list. Think of some questions you want answered on
your trip.

5. Talk about the place you are visiting.

6. Have your child write about the trip in the history log.
Include answers to the questions that were answered that day.

7. Have your children make up a quiz for parents, or a game,
based on the trip.

8. Encourage your child to read more stories about the place you
visited and the people who were part of its history, and
historical documents that are associated with the site.

What was historical about the place you visited? What kinds of
things communicated the history of the place? When you returned,
did you see your town in a new way, or notice something you
hadn't seen before?
                            What's News?

What's new today really began in the past. Discussing the news
is a way to help your child gain a historical perspective on the
events of the present.

What you'll need

Daily or Sunday newspaper

Weekly news magazine

A daily national news program


History log

What to do

1. Decide on how often you will do this activity with your
children -- current events happen every day. This activity can be
most useful to younger children if it is done from time to time
to get them used to the idea of "news". Older children benefit
from doing it more often, at least once a week if possible.

2. Look through the newspaper or news magazine with your child.
Ask him to decide what pictures or headlines are related to
history. Highlight these references. Some examples are the Yalta
Treaty, the French Revolution, Lenin, the Jarrow March Pearl

3. Together read the articles you have chosen. Write down any
references to events that did not happen today or yesterday, or
to people who were not alive recently.

4. Have a conversation with your child about what these past
events and people have to do with what's happening today. Help
your child write in the history log the connections you find
between past and present.

5. Watch the evening news or a morning news program together.
Write down as many references as possible to past history and
discuss the links you find between these references and the news
story you heard.

6. During another viewing, help your child focus on how the
information was communicated: did the newscaster use interviews,
books, historical records, written historical accounts,
literature, paintings, photographs?

7. Help your child compare several accounts of a major news
story from different news shows, newspapers, and news magazines.

"There is nothing new under the sun," according to an old
saying. Did you find anything "new" in the news? What "same old
stories" did you find?
                             History Lives

At living history museums you can see real people doing the work
of blacksmiths, tin workers, shoemakers, farmers, and others.
Children can see how things work, and can ask questions of the

What you'll need

Visitor brochure and museum map

Sketch pad and pencils, or camera

History log

What to do

1. Awaken your children's expectations of what they will see and
what to look for. Write or call the museum ahead of time to
obtain information brochures and a map.

2. Plan how to actually "visit history". Pretend to be a family
living in the historical place. What would it be like to be a
family living in the place you choose to go?

3. When you visit the museum, ask your child what his favourite
object or activity is, and why.

4. Help your children sketch something in the museum, and put it
in the history log. Tell your children that this is the way
history was visually recorded before there were cameras.

5. Use your camera, if you have one, to make a "modern day"
record of history, and create a scrapbook with the photographs of
what you saw.

6. When you get home, talk about what it would have been like to
live in that historical place in that period of time. Compare
this to the image you had before your visit.

How were days spent in the period of time you experienced? What
kind of dress was common, or special? What kinds of food did
people usually eat, and did they eat alone or in groups? What
kind of work would you have chosen to do as an adult? If a living
history museum were made of the late 20th century, what would
people see and learn there? Reminder: if you can't visit a
museum, travel by reading books.
                          Cooking Up History

Every culture has its version of bread. "Eating it, one feels
that the taste one cannot quite put to words may almost be the
taste of history." Children enjoy making this Native American
fried bread.

What you'll need

2 1/2 cups all-purpose or wheat flour

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dried skimmed milk powder

3/4 cup warm water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Oil for frying

Mixing bowls and spoons, spatula

Large skillet

Cloth towels

Baking sheet

Paper towels

History log

What to do

1. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and

2. In a small bowl, stir together the dried milk, water, and
vegetable oil.

3. Pour this liquid over the dry ingredients and stir until the
dough is smooth (1 or 2 minutes). Add 1 tablespoon of flour if
the dough is too soft.

4. Knead the dough in the bowl with your hands about 30 seconds.
Cover it with a cloth and let it sit 10 minutes.

5. Line the baking sheet with paper towels to receive the
finished loaves.

6. Divide the dough into eight sections. Take one section and
keep the rest covered in the bowl.

7. Roll the dough into a ball and flatten with your hand. Then
roll it into a very thin circle 8 to 10 inches across. The
thinner the dough, the puffier the bread will be.

8. Cover this circle with a cloth.

9. Continue with the other seven sections of dough in the same

10. In the large frying pan or skillet, pour vegetable oil to
about 1 inch deep.

11. As you begin to roll the last piece of dough, turn on the
heat under the skillet. When the oil is hot, slip in a circle of
dough. Fry for about 1 minute or until the bottom is golden
brown. Reminder: Parental supervision is necessary at all times
around a hot stove.

12. Turn the dough over with tongs or a spatula. Fry the other
side for 1 minute.

13. Put the fried bread on the baking sheet and continue with
the other rounds of dough.

14. Eat your fried bread while it is hot and crisp. Put honey on
it if you like. Write in your history log what you learned about
this bread and others you have tried.

How is this bread different from other breads you have tried?
Think of common expressions that use the word "bread". For
example, "the nation's breadbasket"; "I earn my bread and
butter"; or "breadlines of the 1920s". What does "bread" mean in
each of these? What place does bread have in your daily life and
in other cultures?
                        Rub Against History

Younger children find rubbings great fun. Cornerstones and
plaques are interesting, and even coins will do.

What You'll Need

Tracing paper or other light weight paper

Large crayons with the paper removed, fat lead pencil, coloured
pencils, or artist's charcoal

History log

What to do

1. Help your child make a kit to do rubbings. It could include
the items listed. The paper should not tear easily but it should
also be light enough so that the details of what is traced become

2. Have children make a rubbing of a coin. Make the coin stable
by supporting it with tape. Double the tape so that it sticks on
both sides and place it on the bottom of the coin. Lay the paper
on top of the coin, and rub across it with a pencil, crayon, or
charcoal. Don't rub too hard. Rub until the coin's marks show up.

3. Go outside to do a rubbing. Look for

* Dates imprinted in concrete pavements

* Cornerstones and plaques on buildings

* Decorative ironwork on buildings and lampposts

* Art and lettering on monuments and around doorways

4. Your child can ask family members to guess what each rubbing

5. Have the children tell about each rubbing. Tell them to look
for designs and dates among the rubbings.

6. Children may want to cut some of their rubbings out to
include in their history logs. Or they can fit several on one
piece of paper to show a pattern of dates and designs.

What showed up in your rubbings? What did the date and designs
commemorate? Historical preservation groups have worked to
preserve old buildings and to install plaques on public
historical places. Is this interesting or important work? Why
have humans left their marks on the world from early cave
drawings to War Memorials?


While our children need the opportunity to study events in depth
to get an understanding of them, they also need to know the
sequence of historical events in time, and the names and places
associated with them. Being able to place events in time, your
child is better able to learn the relationships among them. What
came first? What was cause, and what was effect? Without a sense
of chronological order, events seem like a big jumble, and we
can't understand what happened in the past. It matters, for
example, that our children know that the American and French
Revolutions are related.


Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in the place of another
person and time. Since history is the reconstruction of the past,
we must have an idea of what it was like "to be there" in order
to reconstruct it with some accuracy. For example, in studying
the westward expansion your children may ask why people didn't
fly across the country to avoid the hazards of exposure on
stagecoach trails. When you answer that the airplane hadn't yet
been invented, they may ask why not. They need an understanding
of how technology develops and its state at the time. Using
original source documents, such as diaries, logs, and speeches,
helps us guard against imposing the present on the past, and
allows us to see events through the eyes of people who were


Context is related to empathy. Context means "weave together"
and refers to the set of circumstances in several areas that
framed an event. To understand any historical period or event our
children should know how to weave together politics (how a
society was ruled), sociology (what groups formed the society),
economics (how people worked and what they produced), and
religion, literature, the arts, and philosophy (what was valued
and believed at the time). When they try to understand World War
II, for example, they will uncover a complex set of events. And
they will find that these events draw their meaning from their
History means having a great time with new stories. So, think
about the relationship between history and time as you do the
following activities.
                           Time Marches On

The stories of history have beginnings, middles, and ends that
show events, and suggest causes and effects. A personal timeline
helps your child picture these elements of story.

What you'll need

Paper for timeline

Colored pencils


Shelf paper or computer paper

Removable tape

History log (optional)

What to do

1. Draw on a piece of paper, or in the history log, a vertical
line for the timeline. Mark this line in even intervals for each
year of your child's life.

2. Help your child label the years with significant events,
starting with your child's birthday.

3. Review the timeline. Your child may want to erase and change
an event for a particular year to include a more memorable or
important one. (Historians also rethink their choices when they
study history.)

4. For a timeline poster, use a long roll of shelf paper or
computer paper. For a horizontal timeline, fasten it to the wall
up high around the room using removable tape so that your child
can take it down to add more events or drawings. For a vertical
timeline, hang it next to the doorway in your child's room. Start
with the birthday at the bottom. Your child can begin writing
down events and add to it later.

5. For older children, have them do a timeline of what was
happening in the world at the same time as each event of their
life. To begin, they can use the library's collection of
newspapers to find and record the headlines for each of their

What is the most significant event on the timeline? What effects
did the event have on your child's life? What are the connections
between the events in your child's life and world events at the
                             Weave a Web

A history web is a way of connecting people and events. Is there
an old building in your town you've always wondered about? Or did
you ever wonder why there are so many war memorials in your town?
Then you need to do a history web!

What you'll need

Large piece of paper or poster board (at least 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 ft.)

Colored pencils or markers

History log

What to do

1. Pick a place in your community that has always seemed
mysterious to you -- an old building, prehistoric earthworks, a

Or ask yourself. "What are there lots of in my town?" Churches,
fountains? Pick one of these historical "families".

2. Go to one of these places. Jot down in your history log what
you see and hear there. For example, look for marks on the
buildings, such as dates and designs, or parts of the buildings,
such as corner-stones or bell towers.

3. Find out other information about the place by asking a
librarian for resources, or by searching the archives of your
local newspaper. Look for major events that took place there,
such as the setting of a world record or the visit of a famous
person. Also look for other events that changed the place, such
as modernization or dedications.

4. Find people who have lived in your town a long time.
Interview them using questions about these major and related
events, and any others they remember.

5. Draw a web, with the name of the place you studied in the
middle (like the spider who weaves a "home").

6. Draw several strands from the middle to show the major events
in the life of the place.

7. Connect the strands with cross lines to show other related

8. When the web is complete consider the relationships among the

9. Ask the editor of your local newspaper to publish your web.
Ask readers to contribute more information to add to it. This is
exactly how history is written!

When was the place you picked built? If you picked a "family" of
places, when was each place built? If they were built around the
same time, what similarities and differences do you notice about
their features, such as style and what they commemorate? How is
the place you picked connected to other events in history?
                         Put Time in a Bottle

Collecting things from one's lifetime and putting them in a time
capsule is a history lesson that will never be forgotten.

What you'll need

Magazines or newspapers with pictures

Sealable container

Tape or other sealing material

History log

Lift up your eyes upon
This day breaking for
Give birth again
To the dream.

Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands,
Mould it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.

Lift up your hearts...

Excerpt from "On the Pulse of Morning", by Maya Angelou.

What to do

1. Have your children collect pictures of a few important things
from their life to date.

2. Tell your children that the items will be put in a time
capsule so that when future generations find it they can learn
something about your children and their time.

Some things to collect that represent the life and times of a
period are games and toys, new technology, means of
transportation, slang, films, great speeches, poetry and fiction,
music, heroes, advertising, events, television shows, fashions,
and accounts of issues and crises.
Also have them include a letter describing life today to the
person who opens the time capsule.

3. Meet together for a "show and tell" of the items.

4. Once everyone is satisfied with the collection, label the
items by name and with any other information that will help those
who find them understand how they are significant to the history
of our time.

5. Place the items in a container, seal the container, and find
a place to store it.

6. Write in the history log a short description of the time
period and record the location of the time capsule.

What did, the collection of items tell about the period? Did the
items tend to be of a certain type?
                        Quill Pens & Berry Ink

Knowing how to write has been a valued skill throughout history.
History itself depends on writing, and writing has changed over
time from scratches on clay to computerized letters.

What you'll need

For quill pen:

feather, scissors, a paper clip

For berry ink:

1/2 cup of ripe berries, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon
vinegar, food strainer, bowl, wooden spoon, small jar with tight-
fitting lid


Paper towel

History log

What to do

1. Make the ink: Collect some berries for your ink. Consider
what colour you want your ink to be, and what berries are
available. Blueberries, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, or
raspberries work well. Fill the strainer with berries and hold it
over the bowl. Crush the berries against the strainer with the
wooden spoon so that the berry juice drips into the bowl. When
all the juice is out of the berries, throw the pulp away. Add the
salt and vinegar to the berry juice and stir well. If the ink is
too thick, add a teaspoon or two of water, but don't add too much
or you'll lose the caller. Store the ink in a small jar with a
tight-fitting lid. Make only as much as you think you will use at
one time, because it will dry up quickly.

2. Make the pen: Find a feather. Form the pen point by cutting
the fat end of the quill on an angle, curving the cut slightly. A
good pair of scissors is safer than a knife. Clean out the inside
of the quill so that the ink will flow to the point. Use the end
of a paper clip if needed. You may want to cut a centre slit in
the point; however, if you press too hard on the pen when you
write, it may split.

3. Write with the pen: Dip just the tip of the pen in the ink,
and keep a paper towel handy to use as an ink blotter. Experiment
by drawing lines, curves, and single letters, and by holding the
pen at different angles. Most people press too hard or stop too
long in one spot.

4. Practice signing your name in, say, nineteenth century style.
Then write your signature in your history log.

5. Write your name again using a ball-point or felt-tip pen or
pencil. Compare the results.

Why do write? When do people in your family use writing? What
written things do you see every day? What is their purpose? What
effect do different writing implements have on writing, for
example quill pens, ballpoint pens, typewriters, and computers?
                             School Days

Did you ever wonder why there is no school in summer?

What you'll need

Map of the United States

Crayons or colored pencils

History log

What to do

1. Talk about what school was like when you were a child. Include
how schools looked physically (e.g., one-room schoolhouse?); what
equipment teachers used (e.g., chalk and blackboards or
computers?); what subjects you studied; what choices you faced
(e.g., transportation to and from school, extracurricular
activities ); and favorite teachers.

2. Talk about what school was like 50 or 100 years ago. Ask your
librarian for help in looking this up, and talk to older

Include the history of work in the US and how this affects
schooling. For example, when the US was an agricultural society,
children were needed to help plant and harvest crops. It was
common then that children didn't go to school every day, or in
the summer.

Have children draw a variety of crops or animals raised in the
US, including those grown in their own county or neighborhood.
They can draw either right on the map or on paper that they will
cut and paste on the appropriate area of the map. The map can be
traced from an atlas in the library or from a geography book.
Talk about when various crops are planted and harvested, and the
effects of growing seasons on workers and their families.

Talk about another change in work in this country and how it affected
schooling. For example, when the United States was becoming a
manufacturing economy, during the Industrial Revolution, laws were
made against child labor and for mandatory schooling.
Help your child talk about how the work of parents today affects
schooling, for example, the need for after-school programs.

3. Imagine what school will be like in the future. Younger
children may want to use blocks to build their future school, and
older children may want to draw theirs.

What has remained the same about school from the past to the
present? What has changed? If you could be the head of a school
20 years from now, what would you keep and what would you change
based on your current school? How would you go about making the
Time To Celebrate

On coins various symbols appear, for example, a eagle on a
quarter. What do they mean?

What you'll need


Map of the world


History log

What to do

1. Obtain a quarter. The words "E Pluribus Unum" appears on it.
Explain to your children what this means.

2. With your children talk about the different cultures of people
living in your local area, but whose family origins are different
from their own.

3. Use the opportunity of talking about different religions,
their relationships and origins, and religious holidays.

4. Find holidays celebrated in other nations. Classmates,
neighbors, and relatives from other countries are good sources
of information.

5. Think and talk about other important holidays we could

6. Discuss what your family celebrates, and have your children
write about the discussion in their history log.

What kinds of accomplishments or events do we celebrate in the
United States? What similarities and differences did you find between
US holidays and holidays celebrated by people from other countries?
The Past Anew

Reenactments of historical events, battles or periods make our
nation's history come alive. And they get our children involved.
Check your local newspapers for details of these.

What you'll need

A library card
Local newspapers
Phone book
History log

What was unusual or interesting about the re-enactment? What role
did each of the re-enactors play? If there was conflict, what was
shown or said about its causes? What obstacles did the characters
face? How did they overcome them? What is the difference between
the "real thing" and a performance of it? What did you learn from
the performance?

What to do

1. Find out where re-enactments are held by looking in your local
newspaper or calling your local historical society, or library.

2. Choose one, and prepare your child to see it by visiting a
local museum or historical site that relates to the re-enactment,
or by watching a television programme about the event or period
to be re-enacted. Use your local librarian and TV guide as

3. Attend the re-enactment and participate. Ask the re-enactors
questions about anything -- from the kind of hat they are wearing
to the meanings of the event or period for the development or
transformation of the United States. Finally, help your child write
about this experience in the history log.
APPENDIX 1: Parents and the Schools

Educators and education policy makers at the national and local
levels support an expanded history curriculum in our schools.
Parents and schools can be partners in this endeavor as they
work toward their common goal of educating children. Following
are some well-proven measures for supporting your children's
study of history at school, and for forming productive
relationships with those responsible for their education away
from home:

1. Become familiar with your school's history program. Ask

* What do I see in my child's classroom that shows history is
valued there? For example, are maps, globes, atlases, and
original source documents visible?

* Are newspapers and current events media part of the
curriculum? Are biographies, myths, and legends used to study

* Does my child regularly have history homework, and history
projects periodically, including debates and mock trials?

* Are there field trips relating to history?

* Is my child encouraged to ask questions and look for answers
from reliable sources?

* How is knowledge of history assessed in addition to tests
based on the textbook?

* Are my children learning history in elementary and middle
school, and are the history curriculums well coordinated?

* Does the history curriculum include world history as well as
American history?

* Does my school require teachers to have studied history? Or
does it assign history classes to teachers with little or no

2. Talk often with your child's teachers.
* Attend parent-teacher conferences early in the school year.

* Listen to what teachers say during these conferences, and take

* Let teachers know that you expect your child to gain a
knowledge of history, and that you appreciate their efforts
towards this goal.

* Ask the teachers what their expectations of the class and your
child are.

* Agree on a system of communication with the teachers for the
year, either by phone or in writing twice a semester, and
whenever you are concerned.

* Keep an open mind in discussing your child's education with
teachers; ask questions about anything you don't understand; and
be frank with them about your concerns.

3. Help to improve history education in your child's school.

* Volunteer in your children's history class, for example, to
organize visits from the mayor or local historians, and to local
historical sites.

* If you feel dissatisfied with the history program, talk to
your children's teachers first, and then to the principal, and
finally the school board. Also talk to other parents for
their input.
APPENDIX 2: What We Can Do To Help Our Children Learn:

Listen to them and pay attention to their problems. Read with

Tell family stories.

Limit their television watching.

Have books and other reading materials in the house.

Look up words in the dictionary with them.

Encourage them to use an encyclopedia.

Share favorite poems and songs with them.

Take them to the library -- get them their own library cards.

Take them to museums and historical sites, when possible.

Discuss the daily news with them.

Go exploring with them and learn about plants, animals, and local

Find a quiet place for them to study.

Review their homework.

Meet with their teachers.

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